The Jasper City Board of Education has made some changes to the plan for reopening schools that will impact students planning to attend school traditionally.
Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson announced Thursday evening in a video posted to the Jasper City Schools Facebook page that traditional school students will now only attend school two days each week and do remote learning for the remaining three days of the school week.
"After Tuesday's conference (from the Alabama Department of Public Health), we decided this was the route that we needed to go and have been making those plans since then," Jackson said.
Children will be divided into groups as part of the new traditional school model. Students in Group A with last names that begin with A-K will attend school each Monday and Tuesday, while students in Group B with last names beginning with L-Z will come to school on Thursday and Friday.
Wednesday, as previously announced, will remain a deep cleaning day for schools.
"Families who have multiple siblings in the home with different last names will be in the group with the oldest child’s last name. Administrators will assist any families with scheduling issues," a statement on behalf of the school system read on Facebook.
For the first week of school only, students in Group A will attend school on Thursday, Aug. 20, while students in Group B will come to school on Friday, Aug. 21. Students will resume the regular two-day schedule, split into groups, on Monday, Aug. 24.
"This schedule will remain in effect until the end of the nine weeks, and at that time it will be reevaluated," Jackson said. "Hopefully we can all attend and come back to school in a traditional manner. That certainly would be great, and that would be our goal."
Jackson noted that students who have opted for remote-only learning may now have the opportunity to switch back to the traditional school model if the newly announced two-day traditional school schedule (with three days of virtual learning) is appealing; however, she said parents should act "quickly" and contact their child's school principal if they are interested in making the switch.
Thursday's announcement will not impact remote learners, as virtual-only students will still begin school on Aug. 20.
Remote learners will have an orientation on Wednesday, Aug. 19. School principals will contact remote learners with specific orientation times.
Jackson said she would like to thank parents, staff, students and the Jasper community for their support as the school system navigates its response to COVID-19.
"The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Although we can't predict the future, we know we must make the very best decisions with the information we have at hand," she said.
City BOE announces funds for multiple uses
The Jasper City Board of Education has received money through various funds this year — the majority in response to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and keeping students virtually connected.
Earlier this year, the school system received nearly $548,000 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money has been used to purchase sanitizing machines and chemicals and to hire a social worker and a part-time interventionist for T.R. Simmons Elementary School and Maddox Intermediate School. Remote facilitators have also been hired for each school, and remaining funds will be used for after school tutoring and a summer learning camp.
The city board of education also received money through the Coronavirus Relief Fund that had to be used for remote learning and health and wellness.
The school used just over $427,000 to purchase junior high school laptops and to invest in remote coordinators.
Approximately $299,104 was invested in isolation protections, infrared scanners, infrared handheld thermometers for daily temperature checks, and face masks.
Money received through the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund was used for school bus Wi-Fi ($41,285); learning and achievement gap programs ($108,843); and before and after school tutoring for English language learners and their parents ($37,533).
The city school system was given $645,995 through the state Education Trust Fund's Advancement and Technology Fund that has been used for a number of school improvements, including time clocks, awnings at Maddox Intermediate, safety glass protections at the front desks of all schools, floors at Maddox Intermediate (library and special education room carpet), floors at Memorial Park Elementary School (computer lab and library), the Walker High School lunchroom roof, and HVAC's at Memorial Park and Maddox Intermediate.
Lastly, a state bond was issued in the amount of $3,582,208 that will be used for access road repair at the back of Jasper High and for storage buildings at the tennis, track, and band areas. The school system may use some of the funding for renovations at the old Walker High School to relocate the central office; however, brainstorming is still ongoing on how to use the remaining bond funds.
For more education news from the Daily Mountain Eagle, visit http://www.mountaineagle.com/education.